Short of majority, Australian parties begin talks

Sydney, July 3 (IANS) Negotiations kicked off on Sunday between the coalition led by Liberal Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the opposition Labour Party headed by Bill Shorten, after the possibility emerged from Saturday’s elections that neither would win the majority.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the Labour Party now has 71 seats and the Liberal-National Coalition has 67 seats, out of the total of 150 seats at stake in parliament’s Lower House, which requires one party to have a minimum of 76 seats in order to govern by itself, Efe reported.

Two Independent candidates, Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan, won a seat each.

Results for seven seats are yet to be declared, and may be revealed next week or delayed up to one month, according to the commission.

Despite the provisional results putting Turnbull behind Shorten, the Liberal leader showed confidence that he would get the required majority to rule as early votes and postal ballots tend to favour his party.

The possibility of a minority government assuming power also loomed and was reminiscent of the 2010 scenario, when Labour’s Julia Gillard won the same number of seats in polls as the conservatives but was named prime minister after she struck a deal with several Independent candidates.

Minority governments are a rarity in Australia, a country accustomed to regularly alternating Conservative and Labour-led regimes.

–IANS

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